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Password Guidelines

Create strong passwords

Strong passwords are important protections to help you have safer online transactions.

Keys to password strength: length and complexity

And ideal password is long and has letters, punctuation, symbols and numbers.

  • Whenever possible, use at least 15 characters or more.
  • The greater the variety of characters in y our password, the better.
  • Use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use most often.

Create a strong password you can remember

There are many ways to create a long, complex password. Here is one way that may make remembering it easier:

What to do
Start with a sentence or
two (about 10 words total)
Think of something meaningful
to you
Long and complex passwords
are safest
Turn your sentences into a
row of letters

Use the first letter of each word


lacpasikms (10 characters)


Add Complexity


Make only the letters in the first half
of the alphabet uppercase.
lACpAsIKMs (10 characters)

Add length with numbers

Put two numbers that are meaningful
to you between the two sentences
lACpAs56IKMs (12 characters)

Add length with punctuation
Put a punctuation mark at the beginning
?lACpAs56IKMs (13 characters)
Add length with symbols
Put a symbol at the end
?lACpAs56IKMs" (14 characters)

Common password pitfalls to avoid

Avoid creating passwords using:

  • Dictionary words in any language
  • Words spelled backwards, common misspellings and abbreviations.
  • Sequences or repeated characters. Examples: 123456789, 2222222, abcdefg, or adjacent letters on your keyboard (qwerty) 
  • Personal information - your name, birthday, driver's license, passport number or similar information.


Other password tips

  • Do not use your online banking password as a password for other accounts. Using a single password is the equivalent of using a single key for your car, house and mail box - if you lost the key you give access to everything. While using multiple passwords increases the difficulty of managing passwords, it results in significant increases in security.
  • Protect your online passwords. Do not write them down or share them with anyone.
  • Change passwords regularly. A regular password change is a good idea, since it prevents misuse of your account without your knowledge if your password is somehow accidently (or deliberately) disclosed.
  • Avoid entering passwords on computers you don't control (like computers at an Internet Cafe or Library) - they may have malware that steals your passwords.
  • Avoid entering passwords when using unsecured Wi-Fi connections (like at the airport or coffee shop) - hackers can intercept your passwords and data over this unsecured connection.


How are passwords stolen?

Other than the obvious (a written password falls into the wrong hands or has been entrusted to someone you know), cyber criminals use sophisticated tools that can rapidly decipher passwords. Weak passwords will be quickly guessed while strong passwords may never be guessed.

Time to Hack
4 character low or upper case letters/numbers
A few seconds
5 character low or upper case letters (ex: passb)
Under 60 seconds
5 character low and upper case letters (ex: passB)
Approx. 6 minutes
5 character low or upper case and number (ex: Pasb1)
Approx. 15 minutes
8 character lower or upper case
Approx. 58 hours
8 character lower and upper case
Approx. 21 months
8 character lower and uppercase and number
Approx. 7 years
10 character lower or upper case
Approx. 5 years
10 character lower and upper case
Approx. 4,648 years
10 character lower and upper case and number
Approx. 26,984 years